Re : Education of Boys

Robert Tighe (tighe@APSICC.APS.EDU)
Mon, 30 Mar 1998 11:10:52 -0700

Apologies in advance for the length of this message, but I
strongly felt the need to respond to this message:

From: Robert Weverka <>

>Did you catch the last part of the Washington Post series on gender?
>It is about boys and education.

It is more about boys and society and the effects of our
cultural insistence on male superiority. The impact of
our educational system on these effects is relatively small.

>On male suicide:
> Said Pollack: "If girls were killing themselves in these numbers
> we'd recognize this as a public health issue in our society."

Not likely--our society does not consider suicide a serious
problem. It (and Pollack) also tends to ignore the many slow
ways in which teenage girls commit suicide, such as anorexia
and bulemia and self-repression. But the way Pollack mentions
girls in this statement indicates an anti-feminist bias
similar to the growing backlash against progressive programs
such as affirmative action and equity action.

>On the sex who most strongly applies Homophobic pressure: (female)

I disagree that the example provided proves that women apply
homophobic pressure more strongly than men. However, it is true
that many women (and especially young girls trying to fit in)
participate in the social activities which support strictly-
defined sex roles and related male domination in our society.
This is one of the problems which EDEQUITY has been working to
counter through attempts to change societal expectations.

>On suppression of efforts to help boys:
> Researchers into boys' behavior fear they will be tagged as anti-
> female, and they tread cautiously into the politically and
> emotionally loaded field of gender study.
>This last comment I find particularly apropos. Attempts to raise gender
>equity issues for boys on this list have been met with hostility and ridicule.

Perhaps this has happened because there has been a growing and
media-supported backlash against equity movements, i.e., the
"what about white males?" movement and the Promise-Keepers
movement. And perhaps because the article you mention is
just another example of that series of backlash efforts, and
that it, like your own previous comments, mention problems
without suggesting solutions.

EDEQUITY is a list devoted to equity in education. The members
have shown that they are concerned about sexist attitudes.
You, Robert, must understand that sexist attitudes not only cause
female subjugation but also cause many of the male problems which you
listed in your message (i.e., your quotes from the Pollack article).
If you don't understand this, I would recommend that you read the
book by Myra and David Sadker, or maybe ask the EDEQUITY list.

You must also understand that your comments to this list, and the
comments in the Pollack article, and other similar articles and
editorials in popular periodicals recently, all seem to be
saying this: "We should not do anything about women's rights
because we might add to the problems which boys face."
Many of them even seem to be implying that "women don't have
it so bad; men really have much worse problems, so we should
do nothing". Since white males are in effect a privileged class,
this is a bit like telling the 18th-century French or American
revolutionaries that they should not change the system because the
royalty have their own serious problems.

The fact is that the members of EDEQUITY are probably already
aware of the problems faced by boys and men, and they are already
involved in a process to reduce the societal attitudes which
cause those problems. They would rather, however, focus on the
negative effects on young women.

If you choose to focus on the problems of males, or if you choose
to try to minimize the problems faced by women, you should expect
negative reactions from the members of this list, UNLESS you also
can provide some meaningful suggestions for helping solve some
of the problems faced by males AND females. So far, I have not
seen you provide any suggested solutions, just your own negative

-- Bob Tighe (a white male in support of equity)

Robert Tighe Resource Teacher
Instructional Technology
Albuquerque Public Schools Never doubt that a small group of
220 Monroe SW thoughtful, committed citizens can
Albuquerque, NM 87108-2811 change the world; indeed it's the
USA only thing that ever has.
505-256-4266 -- Margaret Mead

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